Review By Woody, photos by Rich Ward
The last time I saw local sleaze edged rockers Shyyne their performance was abysmal on many levels and with that in mind I can’t say I was looking forward to their support slot with Y&T tonight. The band have been quiet on the live front lately as they have been concentrating on the recording of their debut album which is due out in December.
Tonight’s performance saw the band deliver a dramatically improved overall performance and reminded me of those little bits of promise I saw in the band when they first emerged on the local scene. While most of the songs in tonight’s set I’ve heard many times before, the performance tonight allowed for each song to become clearer and more distinct making for a much more enjoyable listening experience. Guitarist Mark Wilkins’s guitar riffs were more distinct and his solos more adventurous. New drummer, Dave Harvey, fits in nicely with bassist Jamie Downes in the rhythm section giving the band a tight backbeat.
Vocalist Toni Gale was more subdued on stage than I’ve seen in the past mainly due to a knee injury which meant he had to lean on a walking stick during his performance. His vocal performance was a vast improvement on his previous outing, maybe the lack of mobility allowed him to focus his energy on his vocal delivery or maybe during his time in the studio he has been working on his vocal performance – either way, a marked improvement in his vocal delivery was very noticeable.
I still think they lack a few songs that would give them that killer punch and that ‘wow’ factor that would elevate their status in musical circles. They have managed to build a loyal friend and fan base that make their voices heard during their set – there are many bands out there that I would rate a lot higher than these guys but can’t build an audience; so you do have to give props to these guys for their hard work at building themselves an audience.
As I was queuing for Y&T I heard a few people grumbling about the sizeable queue and declaring ‘surely this isn’t for Y&T?’ Which left me a little bemused, I’m not one to judge a book by its cover, but given these grumblers dress sense and age they fitted in far easier with the vast majority of tonight’s audience than I did, so I would have presumed they were Y&T gig veterans. Given how often the band tour the UK, which for the uninitiated is EVERY year, they have never neglected the Black Country. So these grumblers attitude stumped me a little, because if Y&T always pull a decent crowd and add to that it’s a Saturday night, why would they expect different! I was expecting a large crowd but if tonight wasn’t close to a sell out I’d be shocked I’ve only ever seen it this busy at the Robin for Magnum!
The main reason for Y&T’s loyal and ever present audience for shows isn’t based on frequency of gigs, but on the fact that these guys always deliver and fans never go home unsatisfied and virgins go home slack jawed and eager for the next tour. Oh and it’s their 40th anniversary so a whole shed load of classic albums and tunes also helps people get their rock on at a Y&T show – which as we all know are usually very short performances (that by the way dear reader is sarcasm, just in case you haven’t ever been fondled by the mighty Y&T).
So it’s the last night of their extensive European tour and they are just off the road from the tiring Hard Rock Hell journey from Pwhelli in North Wales, so we should expect a slightly quieter show as the band wind down right? Nope, we get the full on balls to the wall rock ‘n’ roll show we have become used to from Y&T! A performance full of energy and swagger and near faultless renditions of all their classics and it makes you wonder how the hell, at their age, that these guys perform so consistently night after night on a demanding schedule when much younger musicians burn out on far shorter tours.
Another great thing about Y&T is that whilst you know there are certain ‘classics’ that will always be in their set, they do mix up their other set choices and cherry pick songs from their back catalogue – thankfully from my perspective no era gets ignored! Most hardcore fans prefer the early albums and the late eighties commercial songs tend to be less loved, yet this is the era I favour most, so I’m glad the band acknowledge life past 1984! Also for those that go to more than one show it’s cool that Y&T rotate certain songs in their set and whilst I was disappointed I didn’t hear two of my favourite songs ‘Contagious’ and ‘Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark’, I did hear ‘Lucy’ and ‘Surrender’ for the first time so that made up for their omission. Especially ‘Surrender’ in all its commercial era Y&T glory!
Dave Meniketti is always an impressive leader of the band who can not only produce lead guitar and vocals at the same time but he does it with masterful aplomb. His vocals remain strong and his distinctive voice give many of these songs real bite and energy live. The rest of the band help keep it loud and bombastic and guitarist John Nymann is always a big smile and swirling hair throughout the set giving extra performance impact on certain songs especially on the like’s of the groove driven ‘Dirty Girl’. It was cool to hear ‘Cold Day In Hell’ from the much overlooked nineties album Musically Incorrect and when is it ever not awesome to hear feel good beauty ‘Summertime Girls’ albeit done sans keyboards.
Y&T are legendary amongst their fans for delivering long sets and been reluctant to leave the stage even with angry venue security giving them the evil eye! With the late license at The Robin the curfew was more relaxed and an encore of four songs, yes four, was always going to go down like a storm! Add to that that the fans were about to get extremely soggy as the encore was in order most of the ‘first side’ of seminal album Black Tiger. I think ‘First side’ is a vinyl thing from the olden days, but don’t quote me on that – ask your granddad. So we get ‘Open Fire’, a deliciously melodic and jaw dropping performance and probable highlight of the evening of ‘Don’t Wanna Lose’, followed by ‘Hell Or High Water’ before the inevitable roof raising ‘Forever’ given to us in full on rabble rousing style. Nice.
Lots of energy, groove and an unrelenting set list which never lets the atmosphere dip. As you always get at Y&T shows there was an electric and enjoyable atmosphere with a very noisy crowd raising their voices at every given opportunity many ably assisted by copious amounts of alcohol! Another cracking night, it’s always easy to see why people turn up year after year and always walk away with huge smiles on their faces. Y&T. This is Rock n Roll. Welcome to the party!
2. Black Tiger
3. LA Rocks
6. Dirty Girl
7. Midnight In Tokyo
8. Cold Day In Hell
9. Winds Of Change
10. I’m Coming Home
11. I’ll Cry For You
13. Eyes Of A Stranger
14. Rescue Me
15. I Want Your Money
16. Summertime Girls
17. I Believe In You
18. Open Fire
19. Don’t Wanna Lose
20. Hell Or High Water